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Digital Media

Netflix and its ilk don't play second fiddle to DVRs anymore

Subscription video-on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu are now in as many US households as digital video recorders.

Claire Reilly/CNET

Paid streaming video services like Netflix are as prevalent in US homes as digital video recorders, TV-ratings giants Nielsen said Monday in a quarterly report.

Subscription video-on-demand services were in half of US households in the first quarter, according to Nielsen's latest Total Audience Report. That's up from 42 percent of households a year earlier. Meanwhile, DVRs have held steady, hovering around 49 to 50 percent for more than a year.

This marks the first time the report has shown the two to be on equal footing.

As consumers have turned devices like smartphones into their constant sidekicks, demand for internet video has led services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon to create their own content and has pushed traditional TV companies to license programming to them.

However, Nielsen's data hinted that people may be slowing their migration away from regular TV even as they watch more online. US adults spent four hours and 31 minutes viewing live television every day in the latest period. This was a decline of three minutes from a year earlier -- a much smaller loss than the 17-minute drop from 2014.

Instead, people are simply taking in more media in total, as digital devices create more opportunities to watch. US adults spent one extra hour a day with media compared with a year earlier, up 10 percent to 10 hours and 39 minutes.

The greatest growth has been on products like smartphones, tablets and multimedia devices that connect to TVs such as Apple TV and Roku. The biggest drop: DVDs.